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Mammoth April 23-25

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have skied over 100 ski areas and Mammoth was one of the last major US ski areas that I had never skied until last weekend.  I had a great time overall.  About 8" of new snow fell while I was there and weather was a little bit of everything (sun, snow, wind, fog, thunder).  Almost the entire mountain was skiable, the only exception being lifts 9, 22 and 25 (and a few real estate lifts)

 

I had high expectations for Mammoth and IMO it's a real good mountain but not great.  Pros/cons:

 

PRO: great upper mountain, wide open bowls.

PRO: 2 steep groomers off the upper mountain

PRO: good size (although both vert and acre numbers seem to be exaggerated significantly, 2900' and 2800 acres seems more accurate)

PRO: more open runs in the late spring than just about anywhere

PRO: great views, you can see for miles

 

CON: short runs.  None of the open chairlifts exceeded 1100' vert, several lifts half that  (closed chairs 22 and 9 are longer at about 1500'; gondola 2k)

CON: Lower mountain flat.  There are a few short blue or black pitches (200-400' vert), but most of the lower mountain is green/easy blue.

CON: Skiable runs closed.  I'm not sure why, but lots of runs with good snow that were accessible by open lifts were closed. 

CON: Odd lift management.  Lifts 1, 6, 11 and the lower gondola all serve the same runs and all were running.  Why not close one of these lifts and open another area.  It would spread people out more and open more runs.  They also had the backside lifts closed, lots of people skied them and staff was very nice to tow some of the people with snowmobiles, but why not use that staff to just open the lift.

CON: crowded/hard to get to.  For an area that is so hard to get to, it's still fairly crowded.  If I lived locally, I'd ski Mammoth all the time though. 

 

lift 23 was the best area

 

 

 

 

Great views

post #2 of 7

Thanks for the trip report!  Did you have the Mountain Collective Pass?

post #3 of 7

Not having Lincoln mtn (chair 22/25), chair 9, and the backside available really reduces Mammoth to big but not huge. I could spend all day just on Lincoln mtn alone and never ski the same line twice. There are so many fun lines there and it would be considered the lower mountain steeps you were looking for. Too bad they don't keep that area open longer because on a warm spring day you could start there in the am and then move to the top when it softens. Hopefully you can ski there when the whole mountain is open to really experience everything Mammoth has to offer (especially mid-week non-holiday :))

post #4 of 7
Quote = nathanvg:
CON: Skiable runs closed.  I'm not sure why, but lots of runs with good snow that were accessible by open lifts were closed. 

That was mostly skier's right of chair 5, where they were building huge park features for a competition this week.  We snuck in there once to take pics on Tuesday. See bottom of TR here: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12136

 

Ropes in spring are generally placed at the level where you won't have lift access if you keep going.  Lower Roadrunner on the backside is the obvious example.

Quote = nathanvg:
(although both vert and acre numbers seem to be exaggerated significantly, 2900' and 2800 acres seems more accurate)

The 3,500 acres if anything is conservative.  There is very little wasted space/unskiable terrain within boundaries.  Mammoth IMHO skis about as big as Squaw's 4,000 acres and much bigger than Heavenly's 4,800.  The latter has a ton of terrain traps/catwalks which greatly reduce usable ski acreage.

 

The 3,100 vertical is the difference between the top of the gondola and the base of Eagle.  You can ski that continuously but few people do as it involves a traverse to advanced Dave's at the top and a long green section to Eagle at the bottom. 
 

Quote = nathanvg:

CON: short runs.  None of the open chairlifts exceeded 1100' vert, several lifts half that  (closed chairs 22 and 9 are longer at about 1500'; gondola 2k)

This overall impression is correct. The mountain is layered so that continuous fall lines are mostly in ~1,000 vertical increments.  Some consider this a virtue as the 1,000 vertical layers tend to sort out the skiers: steep at the top, intermediate in the middle and fairly mellow on the lower sectors.

 

The reduction in lifts/acreage after April 17 removes mostly easy and intermediate terrain. 

Quote= nathanvg:
(and a few real estate lifts)

No, the Canyon Lodge area is mostly mainstream blue groomers.   Only the lower half of Eagle dips into the real estate.

 

Chair 22 is great, but it's the only expert terrain not lift accessible after April 17.  I don't know another mountain with as much steep terrain lift accessible in May. Sometimes Snowbird, but in general Snowbird tries to confine late spring skiers to Mineral/Little Cloud and discourages skiing the Peruvian side in May even when it's not a hard closure for tram maintenance as it is now.  

 

A-Basin in full operation is less than half the size of what's open at Mammoth now, and once Pali closes (average about May 10, last year a happy exception) its late season appeal for advanced skiers drops drastically.

 

Mt. Bachelor is Mammoth's strongest late season competition IMHO.  I does not have nearly as much steep terrain, but the low skier density and vast off-piste corn is unrivaled in lift service.  Mt. Bachelor used to salt its groomers in May but I don't think that is done any more under Powdr Corp.  So IMHO Mammoth is best in May for intermediates too because of the salting.

 

I have not skied Whistler/Blackcomb in May so I reserve judgment on that.  But I suspect having Blackcomb open (far less north facing terrain) instead of Whistler is not a positive.


Edited by Tony Crocker - 4/30/16 at 7:45pm
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by agreen View Post
 

Not having Lincoln mtn (chair 22/25), chair 9, and the backside available really reduces Mammoth to big but not huge.

Yeah, there is clearly some great terrain off 22/25/9.  The backside was open with hiking and I skied it several times.  It was nice and untracked.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Crocker View Post
 

That was mostly skier's right of chair 5, where they were building huge park features for a competition this week.  We snuck in there once to take pics on Tuesday. See bottom of TR here: http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=12136

 

Yeah, the park closed a lot of terrain but there was lots of other stuff closed.  For example the following were all closed despite lifts 2, 4 and 21 being open: comeback, easy rider, lower dry creek,wall street, crosswalk, avalanche, side show, downhill, the acts, encore, lower viva.  I snuck into a few of these.  Lift 4 was "access only" but I don't know why a run would be fine to ski for access but not for additional runs.

 

Ropes in spring are generally placed at the level where you won't have lift access if you keep going.  Lower Roadrunner on the backside is the obvious example.

The 3,500 acres if anything is conservative.  There is very little wasted space/unskiable terrain within boundaries.  Mammoth IMHO skis about as big as Squaw's 4,000 acres and much bigger than Heavenly's 4,800.  The latter has a ton of terrain traps/catwalks which greatly reduce usable ski acreage.

 

The 3,100 vertical is the difference between the top of the gondola and the base of Eagle.  You can ski that continuously but few people do as it involves a traverse to advanced Dave's at the top and a long green section to Eagle at the bottom. 

USGA data has the base of the Eagle at 8100 feet and summit at just over 11k.
 

This overall impression is correct. The mountain is layered so that continuous fall lines are mostly in ~1,000 vertical increments.  Some consider this a virtue as the 1,000 vertical layers tend to sort out the skiers: steep at the top, intermediate in the middle and fairly mellow on the lower sectors.

 

The reduction in lifts/acreage after April 17 removes mostly easy and intermediate terrain. 

No, the Canyon Lodge area is mostly mainstream blue groomers.   Only the lower half of Eagle dips into the real estate.

The stuff near Canyons below lift 22 and/or not serviced by the open lift 4 seems very flat.

 

Chair 22 is great, but it's the only expert terrain not lift accessible after April 17.  I don't know another mountain with as much steep terrain lift accessible in May. Sometimes Snowbird, but in general Snowbird tries to confine late spring skiers to Mineral/Little Cloud and discourages skiing the Peruvian side in May even when it's not a hard closure for tram maintenance as it is now.  

 

A-Basin in full operation is less than half the size of what's open at Mammoth now, and once Pali closes (average about May 10, last year a happy exception) its late season appeal for advanced skiers drops drastically.

 

Mt. Bachelor is Mammoth's strongest late season competition IMHO.  I does not have nearly as much steep terrain, but the low skier density and vast off-piste corn is unrivaled in lift service.  Mt. Bachelor used to salt its groomers in May but I don't think that is done any more under Powdr Corp.  So IMHO Mammoth is best in May for intermediates too because of the salting.

 

I have not skied Whistler/Blackcomb in May so I reserve judgment on that.  But I suspect having Blackcomb open (far less north facing terrain) instead of Whistler is not a positive.

Agreed, very good late season expert skiing at Mammoth.  The only downside is lack of continuous steeps.  (e.g. Pali at abasin is steep for significantly longer.)  Abasin/Loveland combined is about as good as mammoth though, and if MJ is still open I'd lean CO.  I haven't skied else where late spring.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Thanks for the trip report!  Did you have the Mountain Collective Pass?


No MCP, but Tony was very kind to hook me up with ski with a friend tickets at half off.

post #6 of 7
Quote= "nathanvg:
Lift 4 was "access only"

Yes, I was told that by a local when I inquired why they ran chair 21 instead of 10 (Gold Rush) for people parked at 4.   The bottom line was that MMSA management was discouraging skiing over there because of the park construction.  I have skied over there in late April/May of good seasons with fewer trail restrictions.

 

Quote= nathanvg:

Abasin/Loveland combined is about as good as mammoth though, and if MJ is still open I'd lean CO.

Not sure I agree with that, except for the greater tendency of Front Range Colorado to get fresh snow in late April.  A key offset that is that both A-Basin and Loveland have slow lifts so if the snow is good you get way more skiing at Mammoth.  I've averaged 26K/day on my 5 Mammoth April days this season vs. 16K/day on the 4 days at Loveland/A-Basin in late season last year.

 

Also:

1) You only get MJ through last weekend of April

2) You only get Loveland through first weekend of May

3) You only get Pali at A-Basin through, on average, second weekend in May

 

Mammoth is 100% open through third weekend in April.  Breck or Copper might be open that weekend, but if so they are at least as limited as Mammoth is 4th weekend of April.  The bottom line is that the last weekend of April (timing of nathanvg's trip) is the one spring weekend that I'd consider taking CO over Mammoth if both regions are having average or better seasons. 

 

Interestingly I've spent the 4th weekend of April in Colorado 3 times.  In 1987 and 1991 I got in a stopover on the way to a business event the ensuing week.  Last year I skied April 24-27 at Winter Park, Loveland and A-Basin since the Sierra had such a bad season.

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=11805  Winter Park 4/24/15

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=11808  Loveland 4/25/15

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=11809  Winter Park 4/26/15

http://www.firsttracksonline.com/boards/viewtopic.php?t=11811  A-Basin 4/27/15

 

No regrets on last year's trip, but both Mammoth and CO have been better in late April this year than that trip.  


Edited by Tony Crocker - 5/1/16 at 5:11pm
post #7 of 7

Maybe not directly relevant to this thread… I usually ski Drop/Wipeout, Paranoids, Philippes, Climax, Hangman, Lincoln Mountain Shaft / Viva trees, but this last Saturday 4/30 with the top shut down, fog etc, I found myself skiing the trees /rocks to skiers left of Gravy Chute/chair 1. It was really fun! Previously I just passed this little area by, but was glad to be forced by conditions to get to know it this time. Also put together some fun diddling around from Christmas bowl to trees / rocks in Waterfall to Chair 5. And I love being one of the last characters on the mountain after 4pm. The quiet and space are really something to experience. The crows are good company too.

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